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As we finished up dinner last night, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Laugh as a result of the delicious delirium which ensued after such an epic cant-stop-licking-your-fingers-kind-of-meal, or cry uncontrollably from the fact that it was over.  I’ll be honest, one or two welled-up tears may have puddled in my eyes, but at least, I tell myself, I can look forward to next time.  Typically, I know a recipe is worthy of dog-eared status, and a next time, when I’m still pining over it the following day.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

Fast forward to 6:30 a.m. this morning, and as suspected, I opened my eyes and immediately started thinking of last night’s Rosemary Lamb Popsicles. There’s not much more to be said, really.  Summer’s around the corner and she is screaming—literally SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS, for these herb encrusted (by the way, I LOVE using panko breadcrumbs for this crust), minty, garlicky, flavor-wholloping popsicles.  You can easily whip these little gems up on any weeknight, or turn it into a showstopper for all those upcoming summer BBQ’s and soirees.  Topped with a big helping of mint gremolata and served along side some couscous or a simple green salad, and you’ve got a pretty darn good reason to laugh all summer long.

ROSEMARY LAMB POPSICLESROSEMARY LAMB POPSICLESMUSIC PAIRING: Miles Davis, Tenderly

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I’m a big fan of underdogs.  Give me Seabiscuit, Daniel-san, or Watts (come on, you know you had a mad crush on Eric Stoltz, too) over Goliath any day.  Or more recently, for all you baseball fans out there, the San Francisco Giants, my ‘home’ team, winning the World Series.  (Though admittedly, I use the term ‘home’ rather loosely since being from Chicago, I’m forever a Cubs fan at heart — but after 100 year losing streak, a girl sometimes takes what she can get).  Regardless, home team or not, you can count on me to root unabashedly for the unassuming, unlikely hero every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

Today, I am proud to add to this honorable list.  Allow me to introduce the one, the only — Watermelon Radish.  TA-DA!  These babies have become my newest ally intended to bulk up my arsenal for the looming entertaining season.  Serve these purty little gems along side a warm crusty baguette, good homemade butter and a sprinkle of sea salt as your ultimate appetizer.  Simple, elegant, uncanningly delicious and ready to plate and serve in a matter of minutes.  I promise you, this one’s got Underdog of the Year written all over it.  My herrrroooo.

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Zucchini Crudo

Today, I was leafing through old photos of a trip my husband (then boyfriend) and I took to Mexico back in 2003.  I remember having to justify the concept of a “beach holiday” to my fair-skinned Irishman, who couldn’t grasp the point of lying around, (literally) cooking under a devilish sun that was hotter than holy hell.  All day.  Everyday.  For seven days straight.  Looking back, I can’t blame his skepticism.  As my skin became increasingly bronzed, his only knew to become frecklier.  The constant heat exhaustion probably didn’t help either.

He did eventually find solace though.  As I take a closer look at the photos, I see the usual sunset shots, ocean shots, and finally….ceviche shots?  Why the disproportionate number of photos of ceviche?  Well, we ate ceviche at nearly every meal.  No, that’s a lie.  At every meal.  Ceviche –and icy cervezas, saved him from the heat and I’m guessing, at the time, he felt it important to duly document his Mexican heroes.

raw zucchini crudo salad

This raw zucchini crudo pays homage to those refreshing bites of summertime relief and has officially taken over the coveted title of Top Salad in our house.  Some nights, my bones are laaaa-zzzy and the thought of washing and spinning greens, in addition to whipping up yet another vinaigrette of some sort, quickly turns daunting.  And, to be honest, I get bored with the look-n-feel of your typical salad architecture and construction.  Zucchini crudo has a refreshingly new, updated floor plan, great curb appeal and is a cinch to build.  We moved in straight away and have been living deliciously since.  Like ceviche, the uber-simple citrus marinade does all the heavy lifting for you while it rests happily in the fridge.  It cures the zucchini and leaves behind a lovely chorus of infused sunny flavors and a toothsome crunch.  Zucchini season is here and my favorite way to enjoy them is RAW, RAW, RAW.  Why muck up something Mother Nature has prepared so perfectly?

Go out and eat too many.  Savor each bite.  Work on your tan (or your freckles).  I plan to do so for as long as Summer lets me.

raw zucchini crudo saladraw zucchini crudo saladraw zucchini crudo salad

RAW ZUCCHINI CRUDO
Inspired by Tyler Florence

Feel free to change up and play around with your choice of cheese and herbs.  Dollops of fresh ricotta with chervil and dill would be brilliant together.  I picked the herbs below since they’re growing like mad in our garden right now.  Plus, when fresh feta comes knocking at our door, mint is never too far behind.  Oh, and speaking of fresh feta:  French sheep’s milk feta is the way to go.  It’s so much creamier and a bit more mild than Greek or goat’s milk feta.

Music Pairing: Beach Boys, All Summer Long

Ingredients

  • 1 medium farm stand zucchini
  • 1-2 tsp good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • handful of fresh mint, parsley and chives, finely minced

Method

Slice zucchini into rounds as thin as you can get them with a mandolin, or slowly and carefully with a sharp knife.  Arrange on a large plate in shingle formation, overlapping zucchini rounds in one layer.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle with good olive oil and lemon juice.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

A few minutes before removing zucchini crudo from refrigerator, soak red onion slices in remaining lemon juice.  Remove chilled zucchini crudo and top with red onions, crumbled feta and herbs.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

 

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